What You Need To Know About The Penn State Defense
– The defense that allowed 330 yards and 16.5 points per game gets a redo. The top four and six of the top eight tacklers are done for a D that has to replace eight starters.
The biggest positive, though, should be the defensive ends and the pass rush overall. The Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in sacks, and there’s more to come with Shareef Miller and Shaka Toney two proven playmakers who’ll live behind the line. It’s the one area of proven depth on the D, even with Ryan Buchholz choosing to retire from football.
The tackles will be fine, too, despite the loss of Parker and Curtis Cothran. Kevin Givens is a fireplug on the inside, and Robert Windsor as the 300-pound size and experience to be just fine in a bigger role.
– The linebacking corps has to replace the key parts, losing leading tackler Jason Cabinda and big-time tackler Brandon Smith. However, there’s a whole lot of hope for something special from superstar recruit Micah Parsons – who, and it’s early, appears to be well worth the hype – along with reliable veteran Koa Farmer. There will be growing pains, but by the middle of the season, this will be a big positive.
– The safety tandem of Troy Apke and Marcus Allen was among the Big Ten’s best. They’re gone, along with the starting corners, too. The Nittany Lions need 2016 playmaker John Reid to be past a torn ACL to lock down one of the corner gigs, and it’ll be up to senior Nick Scott to be the leader of the emerging secondary.
On the plus side, there isn’t an killer passing game to deal with early on, and the Ohio State game isn’t until the end of September. But …
Biggest Key To The Penn State Defense
The pass defense has to be a rock throughout the season. As great as the Penn State defense was at times, and as amazing as the pass rush was, there are a few key struggles late in the season that proved costly.
J.T. Barrett went off in the second half as Ohio State finished with 328 passing yards and four scores in the win over the Nittany Lions, and Brian Lewerke had a day the week after, throwing for 400 yards in the Michigan State win. This year’s Penn State secondary will be fine; last year’s was a whole lot better.
Nebraska was able to hang around in the loss with almost 400 yards through the air, but that was about it. Only Washington’s Jake Browning added to the list of teams that threw for 200 yards.